By Claire West

In 2011 Liverpool had the highest percentage of workless households in the UK, according to new analysis from ONS published yesterday. Overall 31.6 per cent of households there were workless, but this was down slightly on the previous year when 31.9 per cent of households had been workless.

South Teesside had the second highest percentage of workless households in 2011, up from a ranking of fourth a year earlier. Some 29.1 per cent of households in this area, which contains the authorities of Redcar and Cleveland plus Middlesbrough, were workless.

The highest percentage of workless households in Wales was in the Central Valleys, and this area was the third highest across the UK. Comprising Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff, 28.7 per cent of households there were workless.

Glasgow City had the highest percentage of workless households in Scotland and was the fourth highest area across the UK. Around 28.7 per cent of households were workless in 2011. However in recent years, Glasgow has fallen down the ranking since being at the top in 2006 and 2007.

What is common among the areas within the top five — the fifth highest rate of worklessness being in Sunderland — is that they were all heavily industrialised in the last century. Industries such as the dockyards in Liverpool, coal mining in the Central Valleys and shipbuilding in Glasgow have been in long decline.

The lowest percentage of workless households in the UK were mostly concentrated in the south of England along with one area in the north. Oxfordshire had the lowest percentage, at 8.0 per cent in 2011, followed by Buckinghamshire, at 9.8 per cent. Both these areas have commonly had low rates of workless households since records began in 2004. East Cumbria was the area with the third lowest rate of workless households, at 10.9 per cent.

Across the UK sickness, both long-term and temporary, was the main reason for not working given by the people living in workless households. However this reason was far more common in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales than in the regions of England. London had the highest percentage of people giving study as the reason, partly explained by the many universities there. The South West and South East of England had the highest percentage giving retirement as their reason for not working.